Col­leges drop­ping so­cial me­dia searches

Boston Herald - - MOVIES - — CHICAGO TRI­BUNE

In re­cent years, col­lege ad­mis­sions of­fi­cers have pe­rused the so­cial me­dia ac­counts of po­ten­tial stu­dents, but a new sur­vey by New York-based Ka­plan Test Prep found that num­ber is shrink­ing. Only 25 per­cent sur­veyed said they did so in 2018.

“(The num­ber) went up con­sis­tently from 2008, when we started at 10 per­cent, and it peaked in 2015 at 40 per­cent,” said Yariv Alpher, Ka­plan Test Prep’s ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of re­search. “It went from 40 per­cent to 35 per­cent, and then 29, and now 25.”

The sur­vey of ad­mis­sions of­fi­cers, now in its 15th year, has asked about so­cial me­dia for a decade and un­cov­ered ever-chang­ing at­ti­tudes. While 70 per­cent of stu­dents ac­cept their so­cial me­dia as “fair game” in the ad­mis­sions process, just 57 per­cent of ad­mis­sions of­fi­cers agree with that — down from 68 per­cent in 2017.

Alpher says the de­crease in ad­mis­sion of­fi­cers’ check­ing so­cial me­dia is due to a com­bi­na­tion of stu­dents be­ing more adept at us­ing more pri­vate so­cial net­works — some­times uti­liz­ing fake ac­counts that only friends are aware of and that aren’t eas­ily traced — and gen­er­ally be­ing more care­ful with what they post.

Po­ten­tial stu­dents may be tempted to breathe a sigh of re­lief, but Alpher says not so fast; so­cial me­dia has al­ways played the role of “un­struc­tured data” in ad­mis­sions. It might tell you more about an ap­pli­cant with an art port­fo­lio or his­tory of so­cial ac­tivism, but scores still hold more weight in ad­mis­sion de­ci­sions, he said.

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